Connecting Through Code

27 Jun 2022

Young coders unite! More than 70 students from 15 schools explored the fascinating world of the Internet of Things (IoT) at the latest edition of the Young Defence Scientists Programme Science and Technology (YDSP S&T) Camp.

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Through the camp, which was held from 20 to 24 June 2022, students learnt about the fast-growing field of IoT technologies and their applications in the real world. They also heard from Senior Engineers (InfoComm Infrastructure) Jonnas Ang and Choy Wei Jie, who shared their experiences working on IoT projects and gave insights into what it’s like to work in DSTA.

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Jonnas and Wei Jie shared their personal experiences and provided tips on how participants can get started in their tech exploration journeys.

Their learning continued with Associate Professor Lim Meng-Hiot from Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) School of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. In particular, he highlighted how students could grow their interests in engineering and tech further, and encouraged them to seek out opportunities to engage in different projects as well as learn from others.

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Prof Lim shared an example of an IoT project by NTU students where they coded and built a smartphone-operated drone from scratch.

As part of the camp, the students also underwent structured training where they learnt how to programme a pocket-sized IoT micro-controller – essentially a small codable computer – to carry out a wide range of functions. Showcasing their creativity, they unlocked new possibilities of what their micro-controller could do. Among other things, they programmed it to be a compass, a pedometer, and even made it communicate with other linked devices such as sensors!

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Participants had fun with hands-on activities throughout the camp, one of which included coding a game on their micro-controllers which simulated an integrated battle system that can allow commanders to monitor and make decisive actions on the battlefield.

The highlight of the camp was undoubtedly the final competition, where students teamed up to develop a prototype using IoT technologies and their micro-controllers to enhance the SAF’s operations. After much brainstorming, coding and testing, the teams presented their final products to a panel of judges in an exciting pitching session on the final day of the camp.

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The winning team, which comprised five members from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, emerged victorious with a prototype designed to enhance soldier safety during training. When worn, the prototype can detect signs of fatigue and physical exhaustion, and flag them out for attention. This allows commanders to monitor their soldiers’ health and send help quickly if required. The team even went a step further to develop and train an artificial intelligence model for their prototype.

“It was fun to be presented with a challenge that required us to think out of the box. I also liked how the camp reminded us of the fact that we can use our coding knowledge for real-world applications,” said fifth-year student Oh Zhi Yuan from the winning team.

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The winners receiving their award from Deputy Director (Talent Nurturing & Management) Marcie Chew.

Other creative ideas included systems that could prompt soldiers to take frequent water breaks, warn them of potential safety hazards, as well as a command and control system that could detect trespassers.

Fourth-year student Joshua Ace Tong from Victoria School, a two-time camp participant, explained that the camp was as useful as he’d remembered. He said: “The camp was very informative, and I got to explore different areas of interests. I also enjoyed the fact that it was very hands-on, which helped reinforce my learning.”

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Joshua demonstrating his team’s prototype to the camp’s judges.

“The camp was really engaging. Besides learning more about IoT, it was also a great opportunity to hear directly from DSTA engineers and find out more about what they do for the nation’s security,” said fourth-year student Ng Zi Yang, whose team won the most innovative award for their integrated battle system prototype.

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Zi Yang (first from left) and his team with their prototype which clinched the most innovative award.

The YDSP S&T Camp  is a week-long camp that allows students to learn and explore all about engineering and infocomm technology through eye-opening lectures and hands-on workshops, and challenge their newfound knowledge in exciting competitions. To attend the camp, seek your teacher’s help for your application or email!